OCEAN CITY – A review of bus ridership and how ride-sharing companies impact mass transit was a topic of discussion at a resort committee meeting this week.
On Tuesday, Public Works Director Hal Adkins presented the Ocean City Transportation Committee with statistics and the potential impacts of ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft on transit ridership and revenue.
Adkins told the committee from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2018, the number of riders using services like Uber and Lyft have grown.
“It’s about a 68 percent increase in one year,” he said.
Adkins noted that the resort collects 25 cents for every ride-sharing trip that originated in Ocean City. In fiscal year 2018, the resort collected $61,978 from Uber and Lyft.
“If you take that number and divide it by a quarter … it actually comes out to 247,000 trips,” he said.
However, Adkins noted that trips did not account for the number of riders in each vehicle. If two people were to share a ride, he said 495,000 would have utilized a ride-sharing service in the last fiscal year instead of public transportation.
“Not all of them would have gotten on mass transit anyway,” he said. “Let’s say half of them were. You’re back to the 247,000 at $3 a pop. That’s $741,000 (lost).”
Adkins said he wanted the committee to be aware of what is happening with companies like Uber and Lyft.
“There are many things that will whittle away at our ridership numbers and revenue,” he said. “Uber and Lyft are only one of them.”
While he agreed ride-sharing companies could impact mass transit, Councilman Dennis Dare also noted the industry’s impact on other forms of transportation.
“Uber isn’t just taking from mass transit” he said. “it’s taking from taxi cabs, which mass transit didn’t have to begin with. It waters it down a little bit, but the argument is still completely valid.”
Despite concerns, Transit Manager Mark Rickards reported stronger bus ridership numbers during the months of August and September.
Bus ridership in August, for example, increased 2 percent over the previous year, while bus ridership to date for the month of September increased 5 percent. In addition, ridership for Labor Day increased more than 11 percent from the year prior.
“It’s a very good sign,” he said.